The National Arts Festival Announces Its Online Lineup

Can you feel the anticipation in the air? The first ever virtual National Arts Festival is almost here! From 25 June to 5 July 2020, you can experience 11 days of amazing theatre, dance, jazz, visual art, webinars and so much more, all without leaving your couch. The NAF has finally announced its main programme lineup, and we must say there is far more in store than we had anticipated. Here are our top picks of the 2020 NAF lineup. 

With just 100 days to go until the start of the 2020 Makhanda National Arts Festival, the organisers announced that the festival would be undergoing a massive shift. This was not only to accommodate social distancing measures, but to protect their artists from sacrificing their hard work. In a bid to keep you entertained from the comfort and safety of your home, while still helping theatre makers, musicians, visual artists and digital wizards from around the country make an income from their art, the National Arts Festival has gone fully digital. For the first time ever, the NAF will be presented fully online, bringing you 11 days of entertainment.

What’s On?

As always, the National Arts Festival is expected to present a celebration of all art forms – from theatre to dance, visual art, film, animation, digital art, music and much more. Naturally, the format of the festival is somewhat different this year. There will be no main programme, but rather a daily programme of events to enjoy. The fringe programme looks to be slightly different too, featuring a number of virtual art galleries and live performances. There will be a selection of showcases, webinars and workshops held over the 11 day festival as well. Here are our top picks of what’s on at the 2020 National Arts Festival:

Song Are Like The Grass: Madosini In Concert 

The National Arts Festival awards one artist each year with their Featured Artist nod. This year’s artist was to be indigenous musician, Madosini Latozi Mpahleni. When it became evident that the NAF could not continue as it usually would due to the outbreak of COVID-19, it was expected that Madosini would record a series of performances to stream as part of the digital festival. However this was not to be, as the musician fell ill and was hospitalised for five weeks.

Instead, the festival curators compiled a tribute to her work using archival footage. This tribute will be aired in 11 parts, over each day of the festival. Offering snapshots of Madosini performing in varied settings – from grand stages to intimate rooms, solo and in conversation with other musicians, these clips reflect Madosini’s powers as a musician, stage performer, storyteller and icon of an extraordinary cultural tradition. You can purchase a day pass for as little as R80 per day to watch these video tributes.

Standard Bank Jazz Festival 

The annual Standard Bank Jazz Festival is now in its 33rd year. A place where artists meet and challenge audiences to expand their expectations of the art form, this is undoubtedly one of the most important music events of the year. The 2020 Standard Bank Jazz Festival is a celebration of South African jazz, bringing together musicians from around the country to engage and entertain audiences from a safe distance. Headlined by British multi-instrumentalist Jacob Collier, this looks to be one of the programme highlights for the National Arts Festival. Click here to find the full list of participating artists.

Jazz enthusiasts, get yourself a full Standard Bank Jazz Festival pass for R500. This includes access to all shows that are part of the Jazz Festival over the full 11 days. Get yours here.

Pitika Ntuli – Azibuyele Emasisweni (Return to the Source)

The Melrose Gallery, in partnership with the National Arts Festival, presents Pitika Ntuli’s latest body of work. Titled Azibuyele Emasisweni (Return to the Source), the exhibition of sculptures is made up almost entirely of bones. The exhibition will be showcased on the Melrose Gallery website, as well as the NAF’s online platform for the duration of the festival. Each sculpture will be accompanied by a voice note from the artist and various other contemporaries, including poets, sculptors, writers and philosophers. This is one of the many free exhibitions and events to be held as part of the 2020 NAF, so don’t miss it!

Third World Bunfight’s Macbeth 

Brett Bailey and Third World Bunfight’s adaptation of Verdi’s Macbeth has been pegged as the theatre highlight of this year’s NAF. Set in a modern-day Democratic Republic of Congo, this one-of-a-kind opera brings together “a complete integration of music, text, drama, and politics“. Bailey has reconstructed this work three times over in the last two decades. This iteration is expected to reach its largest audience, as the NAF broadcasts it to the world. Tune in on Wednesday, 1 July 2020.

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We’ve promised you an exciting online Festival and we’re going to deliver! Revealing our first wave of announcements for the 2020 Virtual National Arts Festival! This is just a taste of the shows on offer, already amounting to 120 hours of viewing. We’ll be telling you more over the next two weeks and the website will go live for browsing on 18 June! You will even be able to buy your Early Bird Tickets then. • William Kentridge’s Centre for the Less Good Idea revisits their Season 7, which introduced audiences to the hybrid analogue and digital technologies of PEPPER’S GHOST, playing with illusion through live performance and projected recordings.  An 80 minute programme curated by the Centre, includes two brand new works and asks members of the audience to join a live webinar IN CONVERSATION WITH KENTRIDGE, MAHLANGU and PHALA. • South Africa’s own Third World Bunfight will show the filmed version of their VERDI’S MACBETH; a radical take on Shakespeare’s story of ambition, treachery and witchcraft within a milieu of multinational double-dealings, ethnic conflict, brutal militia, ‘blood minerals’ and glittering Chinese imports. • 📸: @nicky.newman • Former NAF Featured Artist and outspoken activist Mamela Nyamza premieres PEST CONTROL, a layered piece, partially informed by the mythological story of Narcissus, that looks at the diverse relationships and situations that are either deeply impaired because of self-service or repaired to enhance a practice of empathy for the whole good of the other. • Video still by katty vandenberghe • These titles and more will be showing at the Virtual National Festival. For more information on the festival and what to expect from this epic event visit our website. Early bird tickets for #VirtualNAF go on sale from 18 June on our website. • • • #VirtualNAF #vNAF2020 #wearestillcreating #programmeannounced #firstwave #artinthetimeofcovid #digitalfestival #letskeepcreating #amazingeverywhere #vFringe2020

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For More Information

You can find the full National Arts Festival online lineup on the festival’s website. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to keep up to date with daily programmes and special features.

Details: (Tel) 0860 002 004 |

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